Brancusi Fetches Record-Setting $57 Million, Nazi-Seized Picasso Makes $45 Million at Christie's

Constantin Brancusi, La muse endormie (1913)
Constantin Brancusi, La muse endormie (1913)
(Christie's)

New York's auction "gigaweek" is underway with Impressionist, Modern, and contemporary art offered over four days. Christie's started it off with a solid sale total of $289.2 million, above the $200 million expected. Two notable works soared of the 55 lots offered; in all 78 percent of the lots sold.

A vigorous nine-minute bidding battle ensued for Constantin Brancusi's La muse endormie (1913), noted the New York Times. From a private Parisian collection, the egg-like head sculpture, in patinated bronze with gold leaf, ultimately sold for $57.4 million with premium, well above the $20-30 million estimate. The previous auction record for the artist was $37.3 million set in 2009. 

The evening’s second-highest lot was Pablo Picasso’s portrait of his lover Dora Maar, Femme assise, robe bleue from 1939. Phone bidders raced the work quickly to just over $45 million with premium.

Nazis took this Picasso from Jewish French art dealer Paul Rosenberg soon after it was made. French soldiers later intercepted the work in transit to Germany near the end of the war.

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